REIMAGINING HANDS-ON ARTMAKING
THE 2020 PRINTING PARTNERS EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM
In a typical year, Book Arts hosts year-round hands-on book & printmaking programs for children & families across our Queen City. Known as PRINTING PARTNERS, these classes at local schools & community centers bustle with creativity, laughter, and plenty of shared supplies, ideas, and hands-on arts learning.
When the COVID-19 crisis struck, where and how we hosted our classes definitely changed, but our idealogy remained steadfast. We embraced our core values of collaboration and resourcefulness and asked ‘what would it look like to chart a new path?’
PRINTING PARTNERS Lead Teaching Artist Ruby Merritt poses with an envelope of supplies for our Printing Partners program. Separate envelopes of materials were created for each weekly workshop in our 8 week long programs, and compiled in a jam-packed art making kit for student pick-up at participating community sites. Most classes were hosted virtually via ZOOM.
Our signature educational outreach program, PRINTING PARTNERS, sought to answer that question by providing equitable access to high-quality arts instruction and helping students build resiliency, empathy, and critical thinking skills–qualities the arts are consistently recognized for advancing and attributes essential to building a more just and kind future.
Together with our host Partner Sites, we got to work building supply kits that were distributed to local kids and families so that everyone could participate from home. Many kids were excited to be newly equipped with speciality tools like a bone folder and origami paper, but actually lacked the basics like a pencil sharpener or glue stick, which were also provided in the kits!
“This year, our students grappled with a pandemic, groundbreaking social movements, and the obstacles of internet accessibility.
To make the most impact, we chose to focus on solvable challenges to create a bright spot for our students to feel safe, creative and heard.
We created robust materials kits, and worked with our community partners to get these quality arts materials directly to students.
We also developed a specialized curriculum to accompany the kits that focused on creative, hands on & achievable art making at home.”
– Rosemary Williams, Education Director at Book Arts
In more uncertain times & in the colder months we held virtual classes via Zoom with Journeys End Refugee Center & Locust Street Art. This year, we also expanded our reach to partner with FOUR neighborhood Buffalo library branches, providing students & families all throughout our city with art kits and free hands-on virtual classes.
To further accessibility, classes were recorded, and families could re-watch later in the week to make the project again, or catch up on a missed week.
Since our switch to virtual instruction, the demand for PRINTING PARTNERS workshops has only grown; registrations filled up in the first week, and there were many eager kids on our waiting list hoping for a spot in the next session. It is clear that in a time of isolation and uncertainty, our community is turning to Book Arts for connection and creativity.
It was important to us to offer PRINTING PARTNERS classes where our students, community sites, and teaching artists felt safe to create & learn. Pivoting from our usual bustling in-person classes, we opted for small socially distanced classes when the weather was exceptionally nice!
At the Carnegie Art Center in North Tonawanda we held picturesque classes outdoors on their lawn, and socially distanced classes indoors in inclement weather.
We’ve had an amazing year creating art with students across our city! The feedback from community sites, students & families has been overwhelmingly positive, too.
“Students genuinely looked forward to the weekly instruction which gave them a refreshing break from their on-going classes and the anxiety and stress of the pandemic. The art kits alone were beautifully wrapped and presented and included a variety of tools that each student was able to keep for future art projects and independent art exploration. The classes were highly engaging and hands on. Students were instructed at an appropriate levelgiven their English language ability, and furthermore felt welcomed, respected and had a lot of fun!” – Ian Lapp, Lead Teacher, Journeys End Refugee Center